Canton South High School teacher awarded American Red Cross Certificate of Merit

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer

September 13, 2019- For Canton South High School, the new school year began with a celebration of heroism and life.  At the school’s first staff meeting, the American Red Cross presented Kristen Smith, one of the school’s teachers, with its Certificate of Merit. It is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.

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The award was given to Kristen for her efforts that helped save a fellow teacher’s life. Last January, Kristen—who is trained in Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED—recognized the signs when a colleague began to choke during lunch. She quickly reacted, confirmed that the teacher was indeed choking, and performed abdominal thrusts until food was dislodged from her colleague’s airway.

Kristen’s colleagues nominated her for the Certificate of Merit over summer break, worked with Red Cross representatives to verify her remarkable actions, and helped plan for the award’s presentation. At the school’s first staff meeting, Kristen was surprised with the award.

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Kimberly Kroh, executive director of the American Red Cross’ Stark & Muskingum Lakes Chapter, presented the award. “It was such an honor to present Kristen Smith with the Certificate of Merit, one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross,” she said. “It amazes me how one second can change someone’s life, and Kristen did just that when she saved the life of a fellow teacher.”

Jeff Moore, principal of Canton South High School, said, “Kristen exemplifies what we want all of our staff and students to be, someone who takes their education/training and uses those for the betterment of others, someone who is caring and is not afraid to be involved. We could not be more proud of Kristen and all she represents in Wildcat Nation.”

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The Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is proud to have been part of the presentation and to have prepared Kristen for her heroic actions. The skills she learned certainly helped her save a life.

The American Red Cross offers a number of First Aid, CPR, AED and other classes throughout the year. If you would like information, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

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If you wish to nominate someone for a lifesaving award, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lifesaving.

Click here to visit our Flickr account to see more photos from Kristen’s award presentation.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Safety tips to help you enjoy the end of summer fun this Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2019- Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of the summer in Northeast Ohio, and with that comes a lot of traveling and social gatherings.

Whether you are planning to host family and friends for a cookout, enjoy a day ofCentennial Campaign 2015 swimming at Edgewater Park Beach or driving to attend the Cleveland National Air Show, the American Red Cross has offered the following tips on how to safely enjoy the holiday.

Driving safety: When driving, make sure you are well rested and alert, wear your seat belts, follow the speed limit and rules of the road, make frequent stops, and don’t let your gas tank get low.

  • Pack a first aid kit and emergency preparedness kit in each vehicle.
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Use caution in work zones. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.

Water safety: Be water smart. Make sure to have swimming skills and know how to help others.

  • Pay close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.Aquatics Centennial Campaign 2014
  • Prevent unsupervised access to water with adequate barriers for pools and spas.
  • Learn swimming and water survival skills.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Always swim with a buddy in a life-guarded area.

Barbecue safety: Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. You can also follow these steps:

  • Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Here are a few other suggested steps to take ahead of Labor Day:

  • Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll have the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency until help arrives. Take a class (redcross.org/takeaclass), download the free Red Cross First Aid app and open the Red Cross First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
  • Go to redcross.org/watersafety for a variety of water safety resources and courses. Download the free Red Cross Swim app.App Icon
  • Give blood. The number of people donating blood often drops during the summer when people are on vacation and schools are closed. Visit redcrossblood.org, download the Red Cross Blood app, or enable the Red Cross Blood Skill for more information or to schedule your donation.App Icon

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Trumbull County woman honored for saving a life with CPR

Anna Forrester has mixed feelings about being honored with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award.  It’s one of the highest awards given to someone who saves a life by using skills obtained in a Red Cross class.

Anna saved a man by performing CPR.

Here’s how it all unfolded back on December 20, 2018:

Anna works for Gateways to Better Living, a non-profit agency serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She was in the home of a client when he became unresponsive.  After determining the man was no longer breathing and did not have a pulse, she called 9-1-1 and began chest compressions.  He began to respond shortly before EMS arrived.

The citation issued by the Red Cross states, “Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of this gentleman.”  Anna also received a certificate, signed by Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern and Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.

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The award was presented to Anna in front of family and friends by the Trumbull County Commissioners.  And here’s where the mixed feelings come in.  While Anna says she’s happy the man is alive, she’s shocked at the attention she has received.

 

“He’s alive because of you,” said Elizabeth Merritt, the instructor who taught Anna lifesaving CPR skills. “That is extremely special.  He can put his socks on because of you!”

Anyone can learn how to use first aid and CPR, and how to use an AED by taking a Red Cross Training Services class. Visit redcross.org/take-a-class to find a class near you.

 

National CPR and AED Awareness Week highlights training importance

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

June 5, 2019- Today, people are used to seeing online news articles mentioning the tongue-and-cheek national holiday being celebrated that day, like National Cheese Pizza Day on September 7, National Old Stuff Day on March 2 or National Lipstick Day on July 29. Usually when we learn about these random celebrations, we often roll our eyes or chuckle and move on, but we often can miss when a day or week of true importance is upon us.

This week, the United States is celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week. In 2007, understanding the importance of proper CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training and usage to save the lives of Americans, Congress unanimously passed a resolution making June 1-7 a yearly week of awareness.

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The American Red Cross offers many opportunities to gain training in these valuable lifesaving skills. Visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class to find in-person, online and simulated classes near you.

If you opt for in-person training, you will have the opportunity to practice your new skills on the BigRed™ LightSaving Manikin. The state of the art manikin will increase a student’s confidence that they can save a life in emergency situations, as it is equipped with three interrelated sets of lights that provide immediate feedback to students on how they are performing CPR. Only the proper technique will show the success of blood circulating from the heart to the brain which improves a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

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Sharon Nicastro of Independence, Ohio is an individual who is familiar with Red Cross training and the importance of every person being prepared to help save a life.

Sharon has been a Red Cross CPR and first aid instructor in Northeast Ohio for 28 years. In fact, her role as a Red Cross instructor and seeing firsthand the impact it has on saving lives, led her to becoming an EMT.

For those who want to be CPR and AED trained but are on the fence because they are concerned it will have no impact on saving a life, Sharon has a few words of encouragement.

“It is important for people to learn CPR because bystanders can recognize that someone is suffering a cardiac emergency, call 9-1-1, perform CPR, and use an AED in the minutes before EMS arrives,” stated Sharon. “The care provided in those few minutes is just as critical as the care provided by EMS and hospital personnel. Those few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.”

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Sharon Nicastro

Jan and John Durkalski’s story highlights Sharon’s point.

Jan and John were on a run together when John suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed. Jan used her recent CPR training to help save her husband’s life.

Watch the below video to learn more about the Durkalski’s story and the importance of CPR/AED training:

You can download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

Join the Red Cross in celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week by signing up for a training class today!

Tips for a summer of water fun on International Water Safety Day

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer and former nine- year board member

As warm weather arrives in our area after a long winter, many are anxious to get in andSwimming and Water Safety manual 2014 enjoy the many natural water resources Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have, from magnificent Lake Erie and its islands, to the beautiful Cuyahoga River. In the Akron area, thousands enjoy boating, swimming and water skiing on the Portage Lakes in additional to local ponds, lakes and pools. It is crucial that adults and children are committed to water safety and take precautions as they prepare for a summer of water fun.

May 15th is International Water Safety Day, and the American Red Cross encourages you to “do your part, be water smart.”  The goal of Water Safety Day is to spread awareness Aquatic Centennial Campaign 2016of the ongoing drowning pandemic in the United States and around the world, and educate people to be safe in and around water. Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old. But people of all ages can drown in all kinds of situations.

Here are some water smart safety tips to get ready for summer fun:

  • Talk to your family, and all adult caregivers, about the importance of water safety and commit to safety rules. Take the Pool Safely Pledge and share it on your social media. Use the hashtags #PledgeItOn and #IWSD. Challenge your friends and family to join you and take the pledge as well.
  • Download the Red Cross Swim App for a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Water safety information for parents for a variety of aquatic environments (waterpark, pool, beach, lake) is also included as well as a progress-checker for swim lessons.
  • Learn to swim. People can find age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs for themselves and their family members by contacting their local aquatic facility and asking for American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety programs, or by visiting redcross.org/watersafety.

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Water safety goes beyond the outdoors. International Water Safety Day is a good time to think about water safety around the house, too:

  • Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use.
  • Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
  • Install fences around home pools.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Take a CPR or First Aid Class through your local Red Cross.

Find more water safety tips here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross partners with Dominion Energy to distribute first aid kits

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

April 3, 2019- Dominion Energy and the American Red Cross want to make sure you are prepared. This Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at locations across northern Ohio they will supply you with the right tools. In return for five to 10 minutes of your time, you’ll be rewarded with a free, Red Cross First Aid Kit (valued at $35).

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Since 2013, “partners in safety” Dominion Energy and the Red Cross have held an annual Disaster Preparedness Day. Each person or family that agrees to take a short, six-question survey, will receive a quality, first aid kit along with literature stressing home safety.  Volunteers from each organization will be available to help people complete their surveys and hand out special co-branded bags with both organizations’ logos.

“Safety is one of Dominion’s core values,” explains Neil Durbin, senior communication specialist at Dominion. “That’s why this partnership is such a great fit for both organizations—we’re both centered on promoting safety. We also happen to each have offices in matching cities across the region.”

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Preparing for Preparedness Day turns out to be quite the project itself. John Gareis, regional manager for preparedness at the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, said that the preparation starts way before the event and involves staff and volunteers from both organizations. Sites have to be reserved, insurance certificates need to be provided, negotiations have to occur with vendors, five pallets worth of specially branded kits need to be received and then combined with handouts, and cases of assembled kits need to be transported to local chapters. Volunteers then need to be recruited, trained and equipped for the day of the event. When volunteers walk in that Saturday morning, everything will be there ready for them.

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This Saturday, more than 3,000 first aid kits will be presented to families at nine locations across northern Ohio. “We hope that people will take the information they learn on the survey and share it with family and friends,” said John. “In that way, each year, in just four hours, we hope to touch the lives of up to 10,000 people. It’s a lot of work on our part but to be able to reach that many people in one weekend, it’s certainly worth the effort.”

One of the key messages that volunteers will be stressing is that gas appliances should be professionally inspected each year. “While people usually think about having their annual inspections done in the fall, summer is an ideal time to schedule them, when heating contractors aren’t as busy,” suggested Neil. You’ll probably save some money and you’ll certainly have more flexibility scheduling your appointment.

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“No matter how much insurance you have or no matter how safe you think you are going to be, anyone can have a disaster at any given time, which is unfortunate,” explained John.  “We’d rather put the effort into teaching or reminding people what to do, rather than responding after a disaster happens.”

Disaster Preparedness Day locations:

  • Belden Village Mall – Canton
  • Chief Supermarkets – Lima
  • Eastwood Mall – Niles
  • Great Northern Mall – North Olmsted
  • New Towne Mall – New Philadelphia
  • Target – University Heights
  • Walmart – Ashtabula
  • Walmart – Stow
  • Walmart – Wooster

Red Cross volunteers can still sign up on Volunteer Connection to assist at some locations. Residents are encouraged to come out and get a quality first aid kit, which is ideal for home or auto. Sometimes they go quickly so come early, if possible.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

A hero saves a life with CPR

Honored with National Certificate of Merit

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

March 29, 2019 – Three weeks.  That’s the amount of time that elapsed between Sheila Burke’s certification for American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED, and the incident that required her intervention.

Three weeks after receiving her certificate for learning the lifesaving skill in 2018, Sheila found herself performing CPR on a woman who had overdosed on drugs.  It happened at Monarch House, a sober living environment dedicated to women in recovery from addiction.  Monarch House is part of Recovery Resources, where Sheila was an employee.

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Sheila Burke

“I never thought I’d ever use CPR in my lifetime, and there I was, three weeks after taking the course,” she said prior to a recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter.  She was invited to attend the meeting and to receive the American Red Cross Certificate or Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.

The certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, and the signature of the chair of the American Red Cross.

The certificate was accompanied by a citation, which reads, in part, ” Ms. Burke was taking part in a meeting when she was witness to a woman starting to lose consciousness in her chair.  Ms. Burke jumped into action and ran to the victim to check for signs of life. The woman has stopped breathing, did not have a pulse and was turning blue.   After assessing the situation, Ms. Burke instructed a bystander to call 9-1-1.  She started to perform CPR.  Ms. Burke had suspected an overdose of drugs and asked a bystander to retrieve a dose of Naloxone, which was administered.  The woman appeared to regain color and signs of life.”

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Greater Cleveland Chapter Board Chair Chris Mapes, left, Sheila Burke, and Mike Parks

“We are honored to recognize Sheila for her quick-thinking and decisive action,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “She is a testament to the value of every person learning First Aid and CPR, and how to use an AED.”

Red Cross courses are listed on our website.  You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS for information on First Aid/CPR/AED, Lifeguard, Swimming, and Babysitting courses.

Photo credit: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer